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How can a Briton visit France for extended stay with their EU spouse?

Family members of EU citizens can qualify for a special residency card. We explain the rules

Family members of EU citizens can qualify for a special residency card Pic: Ascannio / Shutterstock

Reader question: I am British and my wife is an EU citizen (German). I went to the prefecture to ask for a residency card so we can stay in France for six months but they said I should have applied for a visa in the UK. What are the rules?  J.A.

We suspect that this is a case of the official not being familiar with the rules.

A British visitor accompanying an EU citizen spouse for a long trip to France falls under EU free movement directive rules and they are not affected by the general rules that apply to other British visitors to the Schengen area. 

The latter restricts visits to 90 days in any 180-day period – otherwise, a visa is required. 

The interior ministry confirmed to The Connexion that Britons accompanying their EU citizen spouses or civil partners for an extended stay do not have to obtain a visa.

They should apply in the first three months to their French prefecture for a residency card if they plan to stay in France for longer than this. 

This applies whether or not the couple are ‘moving’ to France on a permanent basis or just plan an extended temporary stay. 

The request has to be made to the prefecture or sous-préfecture for the place where the couple are living in France, and the method of requesting it, eg. whether by post or in person, can vary depending on local rules (check the prefecture’s website).

The card you require is called the carte de séjour membre de la famille d’un citoyen de l’Union/EEE/Suisse. You can find out more on the Service Public website.

The documents to be supplied include your passport, proof of address in France, three passport photos, your marriage certificate and, if your spouse supports you financially, any documents to show this. 

Your EU spouse also has to provide evidence of the legality of their stay beyond three months, which includes showing health cover (eg. Ghic/Ehic) and their financial means to cover costs of the stay.

The residency card will be issued with a validity date corresponding to the length of the planned stay.

Note that where a Briton married to a French person wants to come to France, the process is different. A visa is required in this case, but this is issued free of charge.

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